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IOS 15: Stopping Email Marketing In Its Tracks


Apple’s campaign to create a privacy-first world for consumers marches full speed ahead with the impending rollout of iOS 15, slated for release this fall. 

Much like its predecessors, April’s iOS 14.5 and June’s iOS 14.6 (which have been adopted by over 73% of iPhone users), this next iteration is looking to be a promising one for iOS users, but another challenging one for digital marketers. This time, for email marketers, in particular.

In June, Apple announced iOS 15, celebrating its bevvy of exciting new features, including major updates to FaceTime, enhanced on-device intelligence to discover information, new ways to explore the world using Maps, Weather, and Wallet, and much more. It also dropped the not-so-exciting news, at least for email marketers, of data privacy features aimed specifically at email.

June’s announcement of the upcoming email tracking implications follows months of combating the drastic ramifications of App Tracking Transparency (ATT), courtesy of the 14.5 and 14.6 releases. Taken all together, this recent news has caused many advertisers to declare (though prematurely) the next iteration of iOS the death of email marketing. 

But, that’s not the case. 

While we’ll have to wait patiently for the late-summer iOS 15 beta to grasp the scope and severity of its implications to email marketing, there are steps you can take right now to not only prepare but also to confidently forge ahead with your email marketing efforts.

What Are the Email Implications of iOS 15?

If there’s one thing we’ve come to expect from Apple’s fast-and-furious rollout of 2021 iOS updates, it’s to expect challenges to your digital marketing efforts as consumer privacy takes centerstage. More specifically, however, you can expect the following implications to email:

  • Mail Privacy Protection: The MPP tool stops website and third-party tools from using pixels to track users. They do this by masking your IP address and hiding information, which prevents Email Service Providers from tracking open rates.
  • Hide My Email: HME will now protect a user’s email privacy by generating a generic email address that acts as a middle man between your real email and the internet.

This means, come fall, open tracking will be turned off, IP addresses will be blocked, and email addresses will be hidden. Of the three, the most worrisome is MPP, which will restrict advertisers from tracking email opens, one of the most fundamental and precise performance metrics for email marketing campaigns. 

What Are the Workarounds to iOS 15?

The good news is, with the rollout of iOS 15 coming sometime this fall, marketers still have ample time to prepare and potentially circumvent these obstacles. 

Here at MuteSix, we recommend that brands ensure they have a robust understanding of their current email audience, so they have a steady grasp on what their user breakdown is. For this, our friends at Klaviyo have the ability, for example, to create advanced reports separating users using the Mail app via desktop from those using it via iPhone / iPad. 

We also encourage brands to collect as much engagement data as possible from their email lists—namely current open rates—for a baseline so they can track performance once this all-important metric is no longer available.

Additionally, we strongly suggest that brands double down on SMS collection. While SMS can’t gather open rates, it does measure clicks and replies, which according to many renowned marketers, are very useful signals of engagement on what is a very powerful marketing channel that boasts an ROI as high as 4,600%

Key Takeaway: Prepare Now for Email’s New Normal

As we continue to learn more about the update and find ways to overcome its implications, we will continue to update you. Before we see in real time the implications to email during the iOS 15 beta, now is a good time to start accruing as much engagement data as possible from your email list and to double down on SMS collection. 

For help preparing your brand for iOS 15 and creating effective email and SMS marketing campaigns once it’s live, reach out to our Lifecycle Marketing Team by dropping us a line through our website

Special thanks to our friends at MuteSix for their insights on this topic.
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